Bolivia Holds U.S. to 'Polluter Pays' Principle at Copenhagen

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern  

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern.

The U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern said in a press conference on Dec. 10: "We absolutely recognize our historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere up there that are there now. But the sense of guilt or culpability or reparations - I just categorically reject that."

In response, Pablo Solon, Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations said, "Admitting responsibility for the climate crisis without taking necessary actions to address it is like someone burning your house and then refusing to pay for it. Even if the fire was not started on purpose, the industrialized countries, through their inaction, have continued to add fuel to the fire. As a result they have used up two-thirds of the atmospheric space, depriving us of the necessary space for our development and provoking a climate crisis of huge proportions.

"It is entirely unjustifiable that countries like Bolivia are now forced to pay for the crisis. This creates a huge draw on our limited resources to protect our people from a crisis created by the rich and their over-consumption.

"In Bolivia we are facing a crisis we had no role in causing. Our glaciers dwindle, droughts become ever more common, and water supplies are drying up. Who should address this? To us it seems only right that the polluter should pay, and not the poor."

"We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the U.S., if you break it, you buy it."

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